Identifying Triggers through Mindfulness Practice
The American Psychological Association defines trauma as an experience during which a person is directly or indirectly exposed to actual or threatened death or serious injury (DSM-IV-TR; American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2000). In this definition, scholars include events such as combat, childhood abuse, and rape. Current literature also describes trauma as betrayal, illness, infidelity, job loss, divorce, racism, and other events that threaten one’s well-being (Levine, 2008; Waelde, Pennington, Mahan, Mahan, Kabour, & Marquette, 2010). The resulting stress, called traumatic stress, can cause mental, emotional and physical symptoms. These include intrusive memories of the event (such as nightmares), avoidant and numbing behaviors (e.g., withdrawal, substance use), hyperarousal (chronic anxiety), and depression (chronic lethargy).
American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., text rev.). Washington, DC: Author.
Cori, J. L. (2008). Healing from trauma. Philadelphia, PA: Da Capo Press.
Hölzel, B. K., Lazar, S. W., Gard, T., Schuman-Olivier, Z., Vago, D. R., & Ott, U. (2011). How does mindfulness meditation work? Proposing mechanisms of action from a conceptual and neural perspective. Perspectives On Psychological Science, 6(6), 537-559.
Kabat-Zinn, J. (2006). Mindfulness-based interventions in context: Past, present and future. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, (10)2, 144- 156.
Levine, P. (2008). Healing trauma: A pioneer program for restoring the wisdom of your body. Boulder, Co: Sounds True, Inc.
Porges, S. W. (2011). The polyvagal theory: Neurophysiological foundations of emotions, attachment, communication, and self-regulation. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company.
Scaer, R. (2005). The trauma spectrum: Hidden wounds and human resiliency. New York, NY: W.W. Norton and Company.
Schore, A. N. (2012). The science of the art of psychotherapy. New York, NY: W.W. Norton and Company.
Siegel, D.J. (2012a). The developing mind: How relationships and the brain interact to shape who we are (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Siegel, D.J. (2012b). The pocket guide to interpersonal neurobiology: An integrative handbook of the mind. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company.
Waelde, L. C., Pennington, D., Mahan, C., Mahan, R., Kabour, M., & Marquett, R. (2010). Psychometric properties of the Race-Related Events Scale. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 2, 4-11.
Yesko, C., Bakos, E., & Seewald, A. (2012). Nine steps to the other side of triggered™: Implementation of the curriculum in a therapy group for trauma survivors. Journal of Counseling in Illinois, 1(3), 4-15.